New York Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora has been one of the NFL’s top pass rushers over the past decade.
Since coming out of Troy in 2003, Umenyiora has totaled 75 sacks, including three seasons with double-digits sack numbers. He has also been able to make things happen beyond just sacks, most notably forced fumbles. In 2010, Umenyiora not only had 11.5 sacks, but also forced 10 fumbles.
Now, at age 31, he is likely headed to the free agent market for the very first time in his NFL career, hoping to find the right match for his skills.
Could the Tennessee Titans be a possibility?
According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the Titans are one of several potential possibilities for Umemyiora if he reaches free agency as expected. A return to the Giants is still an option as well, but other possible target teams for the veteran defensive end includes the Carolina Panthers and the Detroit Lions.
The Panthers have a new general manager in Dave Gettleman, who knows former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi well. The Lions have a superb defensive line as well, headed by Ndamakong Suh, but another edge rusher never hurts.
All of those teams run the 4-3, and the pass rush is a vital necessity to make the defensive scheme work the way it is supposed to. And all three of those teams – apart from the Giants – had issues with points allowed in 2012, due to a variety of problems.
Last year, the Titans surrendered a league-worst 471 points, the most in franchise history.
Tennessee’s pass rush improved moderately this season, with Derrick Morgan leading the team with 6.5 sacks.
The Titans had interest in Mario Williams last off-season, but missed out in part due to their Peyton Manning chase, and the fact that Buffalo offered a $96 million package early in the free-agent process.
After missing out on Williams, the Titans wound up signing Kamerion Wimbley to a $35 million package after he was released by Oakland. Wimbley finished the season with six sacks, tied for second on the Titans with Akeem Ayers.
Umenyiora is coming off a season in which he had just six sacks as well, playing mostly behind Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck. The year before, he had nine sacks in nine games.
Expect the Titans with Umenyiora or another other free agent, to do some extensive homework and research.
But another factor to consider in this is, that the Titans are in a situation much like they were in 2006 – needing to upgrade not only the offensive line and the defense, but also in a situation where leaders from winning situations need to be sprinkled throughout the locker room as they did then with David Thornton, Chris Hope and Kevin Mawae.
Umenyiora has two Super Bowl rings, and could offer some experience from a winning atmosphere to a team that is on the spot to produce in 2013.